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Twelve is the same number as the number of the twelve tribes of Israel. Israel was a spiritual circumcision, a special people, a peculiar people called forth to take the good news of God to the world. They failed, and the Lord turned to the "church" to replace their work of Israel. Now the church (ecclesia, "called out ones") carry on the work of Jesus.

Therefore in the replacement of this ministry of Israel, Jesus dispatched 12 disciples. They, and we, part of other disciples called since that time, are to carry on the labors of Christ.

After the resurrection of Jesus they were called "apostles". Matthias was elected to replace Judas. (Acts 2:37, 42, 43). The first 12 were the first fruits of the great harvest of disciples in the church age. We, the church of disciples, are called to "be with Him" and to "preach" the gospel to the world.

Matthew 10:2-4
"Now the names of the 12 apostles are these:
the first, Simon (who is called Peter),
and Andrew, his brother:
James, the son of Zebedee
and John, his brother:
and Bartholomew:
Thomas (also called Didymus);
and Matthew, the publican;
James, the son of Alphaeus;
and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;
Simon, the Canaanite;
and Judas Ischariot, who also betrayed Him."

Paul in his account to the church at Corinth tells us that the Lord in His choosing,does not choose "many wise, ...many noble." Rather, the Lord chose the humble, lowly, obscure peasant folk. Jesus chose fishermen, a publican, and a political outlaw. They "left all" to follow Jesus. They found that poverty and lowly station are not hindrances to usefulness.

Jesus did not choose to include in the twelve:

Nicodemus, a great Rabbi...

Joseph of Arimathea, a rich and honorable counsel...

because they did not sacrifice position, place, and power while Jesus ministered. The twelve disciples were willing to leave all and follow Jesus.

Jesus meant them to be "apostles", which in the Greek, literally meant, "one sent forth". An apostle is one sent forth as a representative of the one sending them. Jesus wanted these twelve to be the first fruits of the ones who would represent Him in the church age.

In the "Didache", the term "apostles" is applied to many nameless people in the days of the early church. These apostles settled in no church. They were to be tested by high standards, set forth in the Didache..

There soon were many apostles

more than the twelve.


Paul included Barnabas as an apostle

(I Corinthians 9:5,Galatians 2:9, Acts 13:2, 14:4, 14).


Paul says that Andronicus and Junias were "of note among the apostles"

(Romans 16:7).


Paul included Apollos as an apostle

(I Corinthians 4:6,9).


Paul included "Silvanus and Timothy" as "apostles of Christ"

(I Thessalonians 1:1, 2:6).


Paul called Epaphroditus as "your apostles"

(Philippians 2:25).


Thetwelve apostles were

the first fruits of all apostles.

These first 12 were very different in temperament. Peter was bold, impulsive, and eager. John was thoughtful and quiet. Nathaniel was believing and prayerful. Thomas was skeptical. Matthew was conciliatory. Simon the Zealot was rebellious, angry, and impatient. None of us are alike in temperament, and God never wants us to be all alike. Jesus loves variety, and that is obvious in creation. Each of us have various traits, skills, and manners. We are different, and need to keep the good traits we have. Sin only needs removed, and more love needs to be added.

By being with Jesus, and by being taught by Him, they had changed some sinful, worldly ways. Love grew, faith grew, and the ignorant men became learned men. The unprepared became prepared. The weak became strong. The doubtful and skeptical became believing. The angry and vengeful became loving, and the called became sent. The difference was Jesus. He had called, trained, and prepared them.

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